When You’re The Best-Kept Secret


“If you build it, they will come.”

While catchy, this line from the iconic movie, “Field of Dreams,” does not necessarily ring true for nonprofits. In many cases, leaders feel like their organization is the best-kept secret because they offer a great service that meets a need in our community, but it seems like no one knows about them or what they do. Although the task of communicating about, or marketing, your organization and its services or events to the community may seem daunting, an integrated marketing communication plan provides structure, step-by-step tasks and metrics you can tackle one day at a time.

A great framework for planning is RACE — Research, Action Planning, Communication Strategies and Evaluation.

• Research — This section centers the plan on the background of your company and what the needs are that need to be communicated. In most cases, this would include information about your company, your competition and the external environment.

• Action Planning — Using what you find in the research, construct goals and measureable, time-restricted objectives. Then, decide what audiences/segments of your population need to take action to reach those objectives and research the audience’s demographic and psychographic information.

• Communication Strategies — Using what you know about the audience, construct messages that will persuade them to take action. Then, decide the strategies and tactics you will use to communicate those messages to the audiences (i.e., emails, website, social media, traditional/digital advertising, events).

• Evaluation — Finally, decide on the tools (both formative and summative) you will use to measure your objectives. This allows you to determine the success of the campaign and apply your learnings to future initiatives.

If you’re ready to let everyone know about your “best-kept secret,” attend the next Marketing Planning course, where you’ll learn how to and construct a marketing plan to meet your goals. You’ll walk out with the beginnings of your plan and be well on your way to taking the next step in your organization’s future. Because, in the end, it is true — if you build it — a plan, that is — they will come.

For more information about leadership and professional development training, contact the Association at 814/833-3200 or 800/815-2660, or visit